Often when you think of sitcoms, your mind naturally goes to New York in the 90s, the era of Seinfeld and those six Friends. But we’re here to persuade you to venture a little further back, and about 1,300 miles south to Miami in 1985, the home of the glorious Golden Girls.
This show was broadcast all over the world and won all the best telly awards going, and so we can’t really understand why it hasn’t quite made it to the same status as its sitcom siblings from a decade later, which are still being rewatched after all these years. It’s got all the right ingredients: cracking one liners, incredible glamour, soppy sentimentality and brilliantly outspoken women. So, you can count this as Must TV’s formal bid to get The Golden Girls on the radar of millennials, so they can give it the binge watch it deserves. And now that it’s just dropped on Disney+, there’s no excuse not to.
It follows the story of four sixty-something women, who after either getting divorced or widowed, are now living together in a Miami house. You’ve got the sassy and sarcastic Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), and her mother Sofia, the gentle and innocent widower Rose Nylund (Betty White), and southern belle and notorious flirt Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan). Together, they’re on fire – the gags come thick and fast as these four very different women try to cohabitate harmoniously, which is pretty difficult when you’ve got sharp-tongued Dorothy about. She’s there to deliver the zingers – “Go to sleep sweetheart, pray for brains” – whilst Blanche swans about, looking for the next man to set her sights on.
But it’s not just all sass and no substance – whilst the women’s witticisms and quips fly about, the show also deals with bigger topics, like life with adult children, the impacts of menopause, friendship after hardship and elderly existence in a society that rules your life as essentially over. Even through a 2021 lens, this show feels remarkably forward thinking, with its focus on female friendship and exploration of age and identity. So much so, it makes you wish there was a more modern spin off show inspired by this classic original.
However, maybe that would take away from the nostalgic feeling of the series, which provides that warm comfort that you can only get from a good sitcom. So instead we’ll just rewatch this once more, and revel in the hilarity of The Golden Girls.
In a celebration of the shows 30th anniversary in 2015, The Telegraph’s Cristo Foufas reflected how, “over seven glorious years, these four independent and intelligent ladies would share stories, and wrestle with dilemmas on screen, in such a beautiful, barmy, and brilliantly funny way they would change the course of television history… And perhaps even the world.” He goes on to add: “It gave a voice to intelligent, hilarious, independent and sexually liberated women, whilst addressing important and controversial issues on prime time American television.” And The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman joins him in his love of the show, saying “The concept was groundbreaking, the writing transcended the sticom genre and they wore saucy jumpsuits. No other TV show has been as influential and when I’m 70, I want to be Dorothy.”
First shown August 1986. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.